Levallois Metropolitans returns to the 7DAYS EuroCup after two years away, but was last seen making a run to the 2014-15 quarterfinals that fell short by just 2 points in a two-game series. After making the French League semis last spring, Levallois has a revamped roster to which just four players return and five of the top seven scorers from last season are gone. With two of the EuroCup's oldest players under him, however, head coach Frederic Fauthoux has plenty of experience to put on the floor to see if Levallois can repeat its strong showing the last time that it played in the competition.
The guard rotation starts with seasoned veteran Louis Campbell, who at 38 years old is just two years removed from reaching the EuroCup Finals with Strasbourg. His backup, Remi Lesca, also returns, and both will have as a passing target all-around threat Klemen Prepelic, who is poised for a big role after four seasons of Euroleague Basketball experience at age 24. Another likely perimeter threat is newcomer Dan Nwaelele, a 33-year-old veteran of the NBA G-League making his first appearance in Europe. Young swingman Maxime Roos will be looking for his chances, too, after making limited appearances with Levallois last season.
The only two players back from Levallois' successful 2014-15 EuroCup squad are small forwards at either end of the age spectrum. Maleye Ndoye, 37, played a reserve role last season but will be valued for his experience again. Cyrille Eliezer-Vanerot debuted in the EuroCup as a teenager three seasons ago and has since developed into an all-around threat at 21 years old. Both will get help inside from incoming young bigs Roderick Odom and Gavin Ware. Odom, 25, brings speed and experience to the power forward spot, but was injured in preseason and is not expected to play until late November. He was replaced by a former EuroCup champ and one of France's great veterans, 36-year-old Florent Pietrus, on a temporary basis, at least. Ware, 23, is a power player who made his pro debut in the Belgian League last season. Going between the power spots will be Petr Cornelie, 22, who is taking his first pro steps outside Le Mans, but has the most recent solid EuroCup experience in the frontcourt, as well as size, ambition and a lot of potential. Yet another youngster, 18-year-old Ivan Fevrier, comes off winning the EUROLEAGUE BASKETBALL ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT last spring as the top scorer in the final phase for champion U18 CFBB PARIS.
PLAYER TO WATCH
On a roster that has very veteran veterans and mostly young or inexperienced players elsewhere, Prepelic stands out as the potential difference maker. His 15.8 points on average made him the French League's seventh-best scorer with CSP Limoges last season and shows his readiness to break out as he turns 25 the day before the EuroCup season starts. He has several years' worth of solid experience in the competition – he has averaged 7.2 points and 2 assists in 44 career EuroCup games with Banvit, Olimpija and Oldenburg – and another averaging 8.8 points in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague when he was barely 20. He is also a legit passing threat, which should keep defenses honest and make sure he gets his teammates involved so that Levallois is firing on all pistons against the elevated EuroCup competition.
Besides having to overcome general inexperience and an absence of two years from the competition, Levallois faces a challenging group led by recent EuroLeague powers Darussafaka Istanbul, UNICS Kazan and Cedevita Zagreb. On the flipside, Levallois has more experience as a club than newcomers Fiat Turin of Italy and MoraBanc Andorra of Spain, with whom it will likely fight through the regular season for a chance to advance. To survive, Levallois will most likely need to balance its youthful ambition to stay in games with its veteran know-how to win them down the stretch. Finding a diamond-in-the-rough breakout talent and a defensive stopper or two would go a long way toward Levallois challenging for the Top 16.